Thursday, July 21, 2011

I am so incredibly sick of writing about rom-coms because there never seems to be anything in them that's fresh or new or original.  The only real pull in these two movies are the actors.  Josh Duhamel and Matthew Goode are gorgeous eye-candy, but beyond that these two movies are just the same-old story, told again and again and again with a different setting and a different set of secondary characters.  Still enjoyable, but boring to review.

We'll start with Life As We Know It.  Two people who seem completely wrong for each other are thrown together by fate, and after lots of embarrassing situations and eye-opening revelations, they fall in love.  Cue obstacle that tears them apart, both physically and emotionally-- his job opportunity.  But then they realize that they still love each other and have to be together, and in the end, they are reunited in a sweet, heartfelt moment and live happily ever after.  Sound familiar?  What makes Life As We Know It somewhat unique is the baby.  Not that babies have never been in rom-coms before, but they're usually the biological child of at least one of the main characters.  This time the baby is the daughter of friends, who die in a car crash and leave the baby's care to the two main characters.

Leap Year follows almost exactly the same formula.  Two people who seem completely wrong for each other are thrown together because the woman is chasing after another man and needs help getting to him.  After lots of embarrassing situations and eye-opening revelations, they fall in love with each other.  Before they can reveal this to one another, cue the obstacle that tears them apart, both physically and emotionally-- the other man.  But then she realizes that she still loves "Mr. Wrong" and that they have to be together, and in the end are reunited in a sweet, heartfelt moment and live happily ever after.  The originality in this movie?  Ireland and an Irish proposal custom.  That's pretty much the only thing in this movie that sets it apart from every other rom-com out there.

That still doesn't mean that I disliked the movies.  I did enjoy both of them, mostly due to the fact that people seem to love the idea of polar opposites falling in love.  It's in almost every movie because people want it to be true.  The geek wants to end up with the cheerleader; the timid wallflower wants the exciting bad boy to notice her.  That's why Hollywood will be churning out these same-old romantic comedies until the end of time, and why people will still go see them.  Leap YearBLife As We Know ItA-.
 Title:  Psych: Seasons 1-5
Category:  Crime/Comedy
Medium:  DVD
Rating:  A

Synopsis (from  Fake psychic Shawn Spencer (James Roday) and his skeptical best friend Gus (Dule Hill) are on the case in the fresh and quirky runaway hit Psych!  Thanks to a childhood spent with a family of cops, Shawn possesses an incredible photographic memory and notices seemingly insignificant details. These traits allow him to spend his jobless days providing the police with mystery-solving tips - but his knowledge soon makes him a suspect. In order to clear his name, the unlikely sleuth declares that he has clairvoyant abilities and launches his own investigative agency, Psych.

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One of my favorite TV shows, Psych is a perfect combination of comedy, crime, and culture.  James Roday is hilarious as the over-the-top Shawn Spencer, a gifted observer who's still a child at heart and refuses to grow up, to the annoyance of his father, played by Corbin Bernsen.  Dule Hill is also spectacular as Shawn's best friend Gus, the level-headed business partner who tries to keep Shawn from getting carried away.  Their supporting cast is also extremely good.  Besides Bernsen as Shawn's disapproving dad, there's Maggie Lawson as the sweet junior detective Juliet O'Hara and Timothy Omundson as the disbelieving, workaholic head detective Carlton Lassiter.

Half the fun in Psych is the interactions between the characters and Shawn's absolute craziness.  But the other half is in the pop culture references that happen throughout the show.  Of course some of them go over my head, as I never watched or heard many of the movies and songs that Gus and Shawn refer to.  But those that I do get are incredibly funny.  I especially love when they reference current movies like National Treasure as well as 1980s TV shows like Family Ties.

Psych is an adventure every time I watch it, because I never know what crazy stunt Shawn will do next.  It's funny, romantic, exciting, and addicting.  Season 6 starts this fall, and I'm totally pumped for it.  (I bet you thought I was going to say "Psyched for it").  A

Series:  The Looking Glass Wars
Author:  Frank Beddor
Titles:  The Looking Glass Wars (1), Seeing Redd (2), ArchEnemy (3)
Format:  Hardcovers
Genre:  Fantasy/Adaptation
Read:  2010

Rating:  A

Synopsis (from  The Myth: Alice was an ordinary girl who stepped through the looking glass and entered a fairy-tale world invented by Lewis Carroll in his famous storybook. The Truth: Wonderland is real. Alyss Heart is the heir to the throne, until her murderous aunt Redd steals the crown and kills Alyss' parents. To escape Redd, Alyss and her bodyguard, Hatter Madigan, must flee to our world through the Pool of Tears. But in the pool Alyss and Hatter are separated. Lost and alone in Victorian London, Alyss is befriended by an aspiring author to whom she tells the violent, heartbreaking story of her young life. Yet he gets the story all wrong. Hatter Madigan knows the truth only too well, and he is searching every corner of our world to find the lost princess and return her to Wonderland so she may battle Redd for her rightful place as the Queen of Hearts. 

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An amazing twist to an already twisted classic.  Alice in Wonderland has been told and retold and revamped more times than I can count, sometimes with success and sometimes not.  Frank Beddor's Looking Glass Wars trilogy is the successful kind.  With amazing characters and an entirely new outlook on the Wonderland story, Beddor's series blends fantasy with science fiction, making this the first ever steampunk version of Alice's story.

Alyss, Hatter, and Dodge are amongst my favorite characters, with strong and relatable personalities.  They not only have to deal with fantastical drama but with the everyday kind as well, like dealing with a teenage daughter and making a relationship work.  This makes them seem even more real.  As for their foe, Redd is a vicious and evil villain; her character is so amazingly developed that you can feel her darkness.

An exciting and entirely original adaptation, The Looking Glass Wars trilogy is a must read.  A
Title:  Super 8
Format:  Movie Theater (June 10, 2011)
Genre:  Science fiction thriller

Rating:  B+

Description (from IMDB):  After witnessing a mysterious train crash, a group of friends in the summer of 1979 begin noticing strange happenings going around in their small town, and begin to investigate into the creepy phenomenon.

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I know my sister will disagree with me on this, but I actually enjoyed this movie.  Super 8 was exciting and thrilling, with great special effects and a good plot.  The acting was also good, especially considering that most of the main cast was under the age of 16.

I love movies where you don't see the "villain" until the end.  It's so much more suspenseful and exciting; it keeps you guessing.  Sometimes they don't pull it off very well, but in this movie, they were able to pull it off brilliantly.  There was so much tension and anticipation because we weren't able to see the "creature" until near the end.

My biggest problem with this movie was the profanity.  The kids had some of the worst mouths, and it marred my enjoyment of the film.  I had gone to the theater, hoping that Super 8 would be a great movie for my mom and dad too, but I know my mom, and she would never like this movie simply because the kids all have filthy mouths.  If they'd taken out most of the profanity, it would have been an awesome movie, one that my whole family (with the exception of the 9-year-old) could have enjoyed.  B+